Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Oxford responds to The Alliance

Updated Friday

The Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, has replied to the letter issued by “The Alliance” on 26 June, which was linked in this article: LLF: criticisms from bishops and others.

Here is the full text of his response.

Updates

The Alliance has issued a letter in reply.

Church Society has published Responding to The Bishop of Oxford.

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Simon W
Simon W
22 days ago

A good piece from Canon John Holdsworth (Diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf) here: https://www.cypgulf.org/are-we-a-remnant/

R Prieto
R Prieto
Reply to  Simon W
20 days ago

“…whatever they make of marriage” is an assertion that nobody agrees with. How wide would you make that whatever?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
22 days ago

Really excellent critique

Homeless Anglican
Homeless Anglican
22 days ago

Impressive. Excoriating. Wise. Challenging. I hope this contributes to the debate in Synod this weekend.

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Homeless Anglican
22 days ago

Well said that fellow!!
About time that someone gave a hard push back and responded line by line to their exaggerated claims and disproportionate responses.

Last edited 22 days ago by Graham Watts
Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
22 days ago

So the Bishop of Oxford does not think that setting up a parallel province is proportionate given the limited scope of the proposals ie blessing of same sex marriage, but does think that same sex marriage would be a departure from essential doctrine. The fact is that anyone under the current proposal could get married in a registry office and turn up for a blessing of their marriage in church a few days later all the trimmings associated with it. My daughter and her now husband followed a similar process, but the bishop thinks they are not properly married in… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
21 days ago

Adrian. The service of dedication after a civil marriage and the PLF do not look alike at all. The Preface for the former makes it very clear that the CofE considers it Holy Matrimony, the marriage vows are repeated, as are the declarations and the blessing of the rings and, although the nuptial blessing is not given, a choice of thanksgiving prayers is given, some of them very similar indeed. And it can be followed by the same nuptial mass / eucharist as any run of the mill church wedding. The PLF have none of those features. It does not… Read more »

Will Newman
Will Newman
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
21 days ago

Bishop Stephen draws a distinction between blessing of marriage and solemnization of marriage. This is a distinction that the C of E has held ever since we started allowing the blessing of marriage, but not the marriage service, for divorcees. So the distinction he is drawing is recognised as valid.
I don’t see where Bishop Stephen says he thinks that couples such as your daughter and her husband are not properly married in the eyes of the Church. They were not married in church, but that’s not the same as saying the Church says they’re not properly married.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Will Newman
21 days ago

In much of continental Europe you must get married in a civil ceremony before getting married in church. In the Greek island of Syros, which has a mixed Catholic and Orthodox population, it is quite usual to get married three times. One civil ceremony is followed by a Catholic and Orthodox ceremony. All three ceremonies often occur on the same day.

T Pott
T Pott
21 days ago

The bishop says: “I readily accept that a B2 process would be needed for the Church of England solemnising same sex marriage in Church. This would be a change of doctrine.” Yet Canon B2 says that services authorised by it must be such that in the opinion of the General Synod are neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter. The bishop seems to think that what he calls a B2 process could be used to change the doctrine of the Church. This is precisely what is expressly… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by T Pott
Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
21 days ago

Croft has become the gaslighter in chief for the House of Bishops. We know what gaslighters do. They belittle – questioning the extent of the Alliance’s support (para 1). They withhold (“of course it’s not a change of doctrine”) (para 2). They trivialise (“You’re too sensitive and overreacting” (para 4). They divert (“You’re fracturing the body of Christ”) (para 5). They deny (“Your concerns aren’t real, and we can fix it through our pastoral reassurance – there, there”) Classic bullying tactics.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
21 days ago

Pete: I worked with you for many years and I know you are a great deal better than this comment of yours. I know that you treated clergy in your episcopal area who were in same sex relationships a great deal better than this comment of yours implies. Many people – and I only speak for myself but I know of many others – found the bullying of Jeffrey John an intolerable and hypocritical line to cross. I know who started that particular line of bullying in the CofE and I know you do as well. It should never have… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
21 days ago

Andrew,

It is a tonic – and should be a welcome voice on Thinking Anglicans – to have a Church of England Bishop (if now retired) such as Pete Broadbent speak in plain English.

He leaves you in no doubt what he thinks. What a difference it would make if his former episcopal colleagues would do the same from both sides of the argument.

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
21 days ago

I hope I did treat LGBTI clergy well. I hope I still do. This is about changing the doctrine, ethics and liturgy of the CofE. Which is what the Alliance is complaining about. And the revisionists bishops (like Croft) don’t want to hear that. So they seek to minimise and dismiss our concerns.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
21 days ago

Pete: this is a serious question. Do you think that you could formulate some way of expressing how the CofE more generally could treat LGBTI clergy more fairly that your more – how shall we say – prudish con evo colleagues would find acceptable? Do you advocate returning to ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ for example? Because the message your colleagues in ‘The Alliance’ give very clearly is that sex outside of heterosexual marriage must not be tolerated under any circumstances. And you know full well that is neither realistic or fair to LGBTI clergy. And I don’t for one moment… Read more »

Tim Evans
Tim Evans
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
21 days ago

This is a very interesting response to the Bishop of Oxford. He seems to me, however, to be making some rather eirenic points rather than being ‘the gaslighter in chief for the House of Bishops’. (A bit of an extreme and uncharitable statement, if I may say so.) Nowhere does he ask that anyone changes their view on the substantive issues involved, nor that anyone cease from expressing those views with courtesy and humility. But as he points out the language used by the Alliance of being given ‘no choice’ is very unhelpful and untrue. It suggests a victim position… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Evans
21 days ago

Tim,

You exemplify why gaslighting is precisely the right term to use.

It is pure gaslighting to claim that the Alliance is the powerful party.

They are the very opposite of powerful. They cannot take a single decision to alter the stance of Croft and his fellow bishops

Bishops run the Church of England. Please stop gaslighting me by telling me otherwise

Last edited 21 days ago by Peter
Tim Evans
Tim Evans
Reply to  Peter
21 days ago

Dear Peter, Thanks for your response. Surely to disagree and put an alternative view is not gaslighting? You have disagreed with me but I don’t think you’re gaslighting me. Nor did I state that I agree with the House of Bishops’ position or with the proposals before Synod. I didn’t say that only one group is exercising power, the Bishops are clearly doing so as well and need to do so with humility. And it is a simple matter of fact that there are many different views on this subject among evangelicals, including those who disagree with SSM but do… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
21 days ago

I think this conversation would be vastly improved if words like ‘gaslighting’, ‘revisionist’ and ‘orthodox’ were left out of it. They are obviously totally useless, because no one can agree on their proper use.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
20 days ago

(Side note. I first saw Gas Light in a local AmDram production when I was a young boy. Many decades later, when I came across the term, I knew almost instinctively what it meant without anyone explaining the connection to the play.)

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
12 days ago

The original film – roughly 1942 – is genuinely terrifying simply because it is so totally believable.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  John Davies
11 days ago

The play was first produced in 1938, and (according to Wikipedia) quickly adapted into two classic films: a British version in 1940 and a US one, starring Ingrid Bergman) in 1944.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Tim Evans
19 days ago

It suggests a victim position of powerlessness, of being helpless and done to by powerful others.”

I suggest those victimised most are neither the so-called orthodox nor the so-called revisionists, but LGBT people themselves.

Cynthia
Cynthia
Reply to  Susannah Clark
17 days ago

Exactly. The only people being gas lit here are LGBTQ+ people. We are being treated wretchedly with the language used by both Peters and Tim E. Treating us with dignity and respect as the children of God that we are is clearly a bridge too far for them. This illustrates the basic problem, how do you tell a swath of the faithful that they are ineligible for all of the sacraments without denigrating us? It’s impossible, actually. God has created LGBTQ+ children, and a faction is dedicated to screaming that we are a mistake that must be excluded and not… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Cynthia
16 days ago

Susannah and Cynthia. Tim Evans is not suggesting conservatives are actually victims. He is saying this is their own presenting self perception at this point – which it is. His actual position is the same as yours and mine.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  David Runcorn
16 days ago

David, I know. I was trying to point out that ‘framing’ oneself as a victim because others want to affirm gay people’s lives… which is a bit how various ‘conservative’ leaders see it… maybe lacks sense of proportion, compared to the huge harm done so often to gay and lesbian people. I was picking up Tim’s comment to basically agree with his assertion. There is a feeling among ‘conservatives’ – you can see it at Christian Concern, for example – that *they* are the victims in the whole issue of gay people’s sexuality. They are not.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Andrew Godsall
20 days ago

If I remember rightly Bishop Broadbent has been disciplined before for his intemperate remarks.

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
21 days ago

I get your point, but anecdotally the sense I get is that the Alliance exists more online than in the pews. Like I think I’ve run into maybe one or two people for whom same-sex relationships are the issue for them, and they’re a Baptist and a Roman. The Alliance seems like a group that’s got conservative organisations together and set up a website and has written lots of things for Synod, but I’d be genuinely interested to know the level of grassroots support that they have. Although, tbf, maybe this is a general issue with Synod: I don’t know… Read more »

Caelius Spinator
Caelius Spinator
Reply to  FearandTremolo
21 days ago

The Alliance is not an online thing. I’ve met someone who I think is intended to be an overseer. She came to my church and was introduced as someone intended to provide pastoral support to our incumbent. I know four other churches in my London borough that I suspect are part of it, too. This is a real thing. I’m looking for guidance from my bishop. Otherwise, I’m going to proceed according to Canon A8.

Anglican in Exile
Anglican in Exile
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
21 days ago

Ouch, rather an unedifying sigh my dear Bishop, might I respectfully suggest you play the ball rather than the man?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican in Exile
21 days ago

So calling out bullying is “playing the ball rather than the man ?”

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Peter
21 days ago

It’s an example of hypocrisy. The way that one bishop (not Pete, but he put his name to it) organised a campaign to force Jeffrey John to stand down, was gross bullying. The way that ‘The Alliance’ and CEEC are organising schism is threatening and bullying. Steve Croft is naming it for what it is.

Peter I agree that plain speaking is good, and +Pete was known for it and well liked for it. But I don’t think The Alliance is at all where +Pete really stands. And I am surprised to see himself hitched to their three wheeled wagon.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
21 days ago

Is this what is known as irony?

An Evangelical Bishop complaining of being gaslit.

“Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person causes someone to question their sanity, memories, or perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel confused, anxious, or unable to trust themselves.”

Welcome to my world Pete. Now you know how it has felt to be an LGBTQ Christian in the church for the past 1700 years.

Perhaps you could treat it as a learning opportunity.

With best wishes.

(Source for quote – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gaslighting)

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Dawson
21 days ago

Simon, I would just like to say that I’m absolutely in awe of the continuing commitment of so many faithful LGBTQI+ Christians in the Church of England, in the face of this constant institutional abuse. I’m not even personally involved in it (being Canadian, and happily resident in a fully affirming diocese). But even at this distance, I find the stress of this constant assault on the Christian integrity of my friends and their allies to be almost unbearable. And I have never experienced it from your point of view. My hat goes off to you. I think I would… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
20 days ago

Tim, Thank you for your kind words, but for the record I left the church of England last year when I returned my lay ministers (readers) licence to my bishop, telling her that I could no longer serve, with integrity, in the church. What surprised me was that much of my local, rural, Wiltshire congregation understood and supported my move. I now have a feral, freelance ministry, teaching and preaching where invited, but a lot of that work is helping to lead our local LGBTQIA Christians support group, which, being ecumenical and therefore free of church internal politics, is an… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Dawson
20 days ago

That’s lovely, Simon. I’m glad you’re able to minister in that way, and find joy in it.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
19 days ago

Tim. What I should have said in my first post is how important Thinking Anglicans has been in that move. When I was being gaslit by the Church he of England with regard to the issue of sexuality and religion, it was engaging in debate on TA that helped me to lean that my own perceptions were sound, and that it was the CofE that was divorced from reality. In particular I learnt that there was healthy Christian life outside the CofE, Christian life that was at peace with LGBTQ issues. And even, in Canada, a Christian church that seems… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Simon Dawson
19 days ago

Thanks for sharing that, Simon. Sort of made my day, in fact! Several people on TA have been a huge source of blessing for me (often because of their patience with me!), so it’s gratifying to know that sometimes it works the other way, too. Also, the fact that you can link Rod and I together in the same sentence when he and I are very different theologically is gratifying, too. Shout out to Rod!

Anne Foreman
Anne Foreman
21 days ago

As a former member of General Synod I welcome +Stephen Croft’s wise and clear response to ‘The Alliance’. I hope it will inform the debate in York. As for the statement from +Pete – I suppose it has the merit of frankness but to echo a former General Synod debate..”I DISAGREE with +Pete…”
Anne Foreman

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
Reply to  Anne Foreman
21 days ago

I agree with Anne!

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
21 days ago

As he was the one who called for introducing the standalone PLF services under Canon B5 in November I am not surprised Steven Croft was the one to respond. He raised the stakes considerably. The Alliance has raised them even further, but surely in a way that Steven Croft saw coming. He is not short of vocal and well organised evangelicals in his diocese. Perhaps his response is in part an attempt to rein in the impact of his Nov 23 proposal.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
21 days ago

I am following this thread with my head in my hands wondering where Anthony Trollope is when you need him. But it then occurred to me that there might be a marketing opportunity for the church to help make up for the wasted million spent on the Wilkinson and Jay reports…and which would appeal to the younger congregations we wish we had- a video game called ‘Gaslighting’ peopled by fictionalised teams from the Alliance, The Archbishops Council, the Secretariat – imagine something like the stalking between the Lost Boys and Indians and so on round the Never Never land in… Read more »

Peter
Peter
21 days ago

A rebuttal of the false of doctrine of unity espoused by Steven Croft can be found in the article linked below

https://mbarrattdavie.wordpress.com/2024/07/03/unity-and-truth-part-iii/

Charles Read
Reply to  Peter
21 days ago

Martin Davie may be an Anglican theologian, but he sure does not understand the BCP! His use of it to bolster his case does not work – for example the marriage service extract he quotes has in view the prohibited degrees of marriage not persons of the same gender getting married.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Charles Read
21 days ago

Honestly Charles,

What a lame attempt to discredit Davie. The BCP was written a little while ago. It is hardly a compelling argument to point out the BCP does not reference same sex marriage

I am going to hazard a guess that Davie knows when the BCP was compiled. His argument does not depend on its direct reference to SSM

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Peter
21 days ago

Peter – it is Davie who tries to use the BCP to bolster his argument against SSM. He clearly thinks his argument does depend on it.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  David Runcorn
21 days ago

Davies quotes from Morning Prayer, the Litany, the Marriage Service and the Book of Homilies. He doesn’t claim that BCP refers to SSM, just that it takes repentance, sin and judgement seriously and sees matters of sexual conduct forbidden by scripture as “very serious.” I am genuinely confused about the point you are making. Is your argument that the authors of BCP would be supportive of same-sex marriage? Or that they would back PLF and find SSM a bit too much? Or just that they believed that sexual ethics are something of a triviality and they didn’t much care what… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Paul
20 days ago

I was responding to Peter’s comments to Charles – nothing more than that. Davie uses BCP as part of his argument. The answer to all your questions is ‘no’ and ‘of course not’. I wasn’t engaging with Davie or BCP at all at this point..

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Peter
21 days ago
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Mark
21 days ago

Thanks. That is helpful

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Peter
19 days ago

Yet another direct response to Steven Croft who seems to be trying to super-accelerate the collapse of the episcopate and a descent into total anarchy.

https://anglicanmainstream.org/the-alliance-responds-to-the-bishop-of-oxford-an-attempt-to-avoid-schism/

Mark
Mark
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
19 days ago

Thank you. Not content with the balkanisation of his own diocese where episcopal governance has effectively collapsed into a series of schismatrices, he seems to want export the “model” as widely as possible and encourage the unchecked proliferation of schismatic, adversarial and anarchic tendencies, leading to complete fragmentation and call it a resounding success, while at the general synod adopting the tone: “If you felt able to vote for this”….

Last edited 19 days ago by Mark
R Prieto
R Prieto
20 days ago

+Steven is right that many bishops and clergy have been happily ignoring the teaching and canons of the Church of England for many years and conservative evangelicals tended to keep quiet as long as they were left alone. But to use that as an argument in defending to openly carry on ignoring the teaching and canons is hardly a logical argument.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
20 days ago

For me one of the most significant lines in +Steven’s response came early on. Commenting on The Alliance letter he wrote – ‘Your letter makes a series of charges … and I have no doubt has caused hurt to LGBTQIA+ Christians and their friends and family.’  Whenever I have debated this issue – and I was recently sharing a platform with a conservative speaker for just such a discussion – I try to be very careful to express respect for other viewpoints and show an understanding of what it means to those holding them. Real lives are involved and on all… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  David Runcorn
19 days ago

Thank you. Some posts read like zero sum power struggles between parties demanding *their* dogma alone must prevail, and talking *at* opponents. It becomes attritional, abstract, and sometimes rather graceless. While all the noise and belligerence carries on between competing parties, somewhere underneath… being talked ‘about’… …countless LGBT+ people are just trying to live decent and productive lives. Please don’t abandon this site completely, David, because your voice is precious, and I concur that we must be willing to accommodate differing views. We should allow people to hold differing views, but without partitioning the Church so there are ‘no-go’ provinces… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Susannah Clark
12 days ago

Well said indeed, Susannah. Our prime purpose surely is the care of people – human beings with spiritual and other needs, no different to any of us, not specimens to be objectified and discussed like laboratory samples. Right now my particular concern is the support of a friend, dying of a particularly rare and nasty disease, and her broken hearted husband. And, rightly, it is the primary concern of our church. They – who are the heart of Christ’s living church – are what matters most. And, to quote ‘Scouting For Boys’, “A scout is a friend and a brother… Read more »

Graham Cotter
Graham Cotter
20 days ago

Thank you for this website, and the varied contributions. Film Number 5 in the LLF materials is a wonderful narrative of transformative change. You see Graham and Sadie sailing in Bournemouth. This came from our parish of Buckland Monachorum, and describes the ministry of God Holy Spirit, turning around the human heart into conformity with the teaching of Jesus. This is in line with 1 Corinthians 6 v.11: ‘And such were some of you.’ Unfortunately this inspiring film was not included in Diocesan teaching days. Graham found the church to be a wonderfully merciful environment, as it should be, within… Read more »

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
15 days ago

The Alliance and any other schismatics are more than welcome to leave the church and follow their consciences to set up a new church or join another church. What they should be resisted most forcefully in doing is getting the rest of us to pay for this and pretend that we are still all in the same church, which is what the Alliance wants. Well, it has been a successful strategy so far given we have special oversight for people who don’t believe women priests and bishops are real and a whole wing of the church that doesn’t even follow… Read more »

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